ICBC says distracted driving deaths are outpacing impaired driving fatalities

Published: September 7, 2017

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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The growth of distracted driving on Canada’s roads as claimed another statistic. The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) reports distracted driving claims more lives in the province that impaired driving.

British Columbia has introduced tougher penalties in an effort to stem increasing cases of distracted driving. However, an ICBC press release on Wednesday suggests the measures are unsuccessful. The information comes just weeks after Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) said distracted driving is more common in Ontario than impaired driving and speeding combined.

ICBC says 78 people are killed each year because of distracted driving in B.C., adding the distractions range from texting and talking, to using a device while driving. On average, 66 people die each year in the province from impaired driving.

“In fact, distraction and driver inattention is one of the top contributing factors in motor vehicle fatalities in BC and contributes to more than one quarter of all car crash deaths,” the insurer reported, using police data from 2011 to 2015.

September is a focus month for ICBC as it ramps up its efforts to combat distracted driving. The Crown Corporation auto insurance provider is conducting “Cell Watch” deployments with helps from law enforcement and community volunteers. The program urges drivers to avoid using their mobile phones while behind the wheel.

“Distracted driving is entirely preventable, as are the crashes and casualties caused by the behavior,” says B.C. Attorney General, David Eby. “To address this issue, our government is moving forward with a pilot program of new technologies to eliminate distracted driving among high-risk groups, and to increase public awareness of the risks of this dangerous driving behaviour. Drivers need to be part of the solution too: put down your phones before driving; keep them out of reach; and keep yourself, your passengers and other road users safe.”